Social Isolation and its Relationship to Multidimensional Poverty

OPHI Working Papers

Most governments and policy makers define poverty by income. Yet poor people define their poverty more broadly, including lack of education, health, housing, empowerment, employment, personal security and more. As such, no one factor is able to capture all the aspects that contribute to poverty, making poverty a multidimensional concept. One dimension of poverty that has been often overlooked is social connectedness. This paper argues that social connectedness is an important missing ingredient of multidimensional poverty, with social isolation being a central component. We illustrate the concepts of social isolation and social connectedness using examples from South Africa and Mozambique, and the First Nations of Canada, as well as the work of Special Olympics International around the world. 

Citation: Samuel, K., Alkire, S., Hammock, J., Mills, C. and Zavaleta, D. (2014). 'Social isolation and its relationship to multidimensional poverty', OPHI Working Papers 80, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Also published in Oxford Development Studies, 2018, Vol. 46(1), pp. 83–97.

Isolation, social connectedness, loneliness, poverty, disability, first nations
Sub-Saharan Africa
North America
South Africa

Kim Samuel, Sabina Alkire, John Hammock, China Mills and Diego Zavaleta
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
C8, D63, I3, I32, I39, Z130
Publication Number
WP 80